Watering Your Garden

It’s an interesting thing, a vegetable garden. We plant one every year, at every house, in every city, in every state that we live in. We reinvest our energy, time, and money in creating a solid foundation to grow beautiful plants full of organic, beautiful foods. We have learned that different foods grow better in different areas, and sometimes the soil isn’t right for some. We have used raised beds and in-ground beds… potted gardens and patio gardens. We have adapted to our environment with each move because a garden is important to us. 

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But, do you know what happens when you start to get comfortable? You can forget to water your garden. It becomes another chore or task that can be easily forgotten because it is no longer new or exciting. We generally skip this part, though – as we are moved so frequently, but I realized as I was watering our garden today just how easy it would be to completely forget about it alongside of our house. We are comfortable here, now. We are well over the 2 year mark. Life has fallen into routine. We have grown to love our neighborhood and friends. We have grown to handle the temperatures (as well as can be expected), too. But we have learned how to have a very successful garden, and I do not want to take it for granted.

As you can tell, I’m not solely writing about our garden; although, it is worth it’s own post. I’m writing to remind myself -and perhaps you- that after becoming comfortable with where you are in life, it can be very easy to stop watering all the things that need watered. These things may include filling your own cup with self-happiness, appreciating your children for who they are right now, taking time to reconnect with your partner, or continuing to build friendships. Comfort is a beautiful and time-sucking thing, isn’t it?

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“The Simple Life” is a motto well known around these parts, and it is one that I understand and question often, but I have come to appreciate just how much people water their gardens here. You will find grocery store conversations lasting longer than coffee dates, and the dinner table is a place that is always sat at. 

I started running longer distances again. I took a hiatus for awhile there throughout the unexpected baby #5, unexpected cross-country move, mid-western winter, and postpartum depression time of my life. I did, however, find yoga then. And now the two have found a significant balance in my life. Doing these great things keeps my own garden watered. Whether you sew, cook, read, dance, or sing – find some time to do it. 

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Finding a connection that is not the general parental role with your child(ren) can prove challenging. My 10 year old and I just started watching Gilmore Girls from season 1 together. I didn’t realize just how much fun it would be to have this thing that only we share. It can be so simple, so easy to create and strengthen these connections, but also so easy to blow past the opportunity to do so. There are great similarities when comparing my garden to my relationships with each child. My garden produces well-grown, healthy foods when maintained, suffers when neglected. My children are balanced, connected, and happy when I take care of that relationship. Again, I’ve learned how important it is to water my garden.

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The most overlooked area of life always seems to be the marriage or foundational relationship within the family. It is the most comfortable spot – the worn in couch cushion. It’s the strawberry plant that comes back year after year, generally more fruitful each time. But it still needs watered. The love and appreciation is always there, but the watering may not be happening much. The leaves may be wilting, and the harvesting isn’t happening near enough to keep the plant healthy and happy. It doesn’t take more than brushing arms as you pass each other – pulling in for a true kiss, or dancing in the kitchen to an old song. These things will keep the garden growing.

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Between juggling work, kids, marriage, house, food, calendar, and life – how does one even have time to start a garden, you may ask? If it’s time consuming enough to remember to water the fictional hypothetical garden in your life, how can you ever plant a real one? Well, it takes a little bit of time, a lot of love, and the helping hands of those around you, but you can do it. Will it be a huge success? Yes – if only to bring you all closer and remind you to water your life daily. 

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A Week in Denver: Our Daily Itinerary

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I can’t tell you enough about our latest adventure. We had the greatest week, and I truly owe it to creating an itinerary for us to follow. There were no moments of arguing or trying to figure out where to eat. Everything was already decided. The beauty of this itinerary is that you can play so much by ear! Switch restaurants or add in an additional hike, whatever makes you happy!

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We decided to cut the drive in half on the way out there, but we would not do it again. Just suffer through and get to Denver – at least if you are driving from Omaha. The hotel was awful, the town was obsolete, and the food was appalling. (The lake was gorgeous, and the jet skiing was a blast, though! But something you can do on another lake in a better area.)

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Day 1

  • Bring snacks/lunch
  • Check in to hotel in Ogallala, NE – Lake McConaughy
  • Travelodge by Wyndham Ogallala (Think motel not hotel, here folks. We would skip this stop next time and head straight to Denver!)
  • Jet ski rental $85 for an hour/ $135 for 2 hours — reservation is 3:30-5:30 (308.355.5555 Big Mac Marina in Arthur’s bay)
  • Play at the beach all afternoon
  • Eat dinner @ Urban Farmer

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Day 2

  • Up, eat, and go. (3+ hours drive)
  • Check into hotel in Greenwood Village (Sheraton Denver Tech Center)
  • Lunch at Mediterranean Place across from hotel— Quick and easy!
  • Drive 35 minutes to Roxborough State Park – Hike – This was GORGEOUS!
  • Stop at any local lake you find to skip rocks and play.
  • Dinner @ Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton (10 minutes from hotel) Reservation was at 6pm – What an amazingly fun brewery!! They have live music, food trucks for those eating outside, and SO MANY BEERS. We played until 10:00pm because it was so much fun.

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Day 3 

  • (pack lunch/snacks/waters)
  • Hiking at Red Rock Ampitheater and Morrison Castle Trail (Castle Trail, Morrison, CO 80465) or Maxwell Falls Lower Trail (easy trail to a waterfall) – Note: Red Rock takes at least 2 hours! Make sure you run the stairs at Red Rock (if you are a running geek like me – it was a bucket list item!)
  • Hike Dinosaur Ridgway!
  • Bear Creek Lake – Kayaking and Beach Play – $10 entrance fee for the park — paddle boarding at Rocky Mountain Paddleboard. This lake is small with little beach area, but it was a great way to spend an afternoon.
  • Horseback riding at Bear Creek Stables 1 hour $40/each person. We sent our 5, 7, and 9 year olds solo with the guide. She assured us they would be safe. They had an adventure that they will remember forever!
  • Dinner @ Sazza Pizza (Get there for happy hour!)

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Day 4

  • Waterworld ALL DAY LONG. Pre-purchase tickets to save money.
  • Dinner @ Homegrown Tap & Dough – Washington Park location. Note: This is a MUST to entertain the kids. They have a FREE arcade and patio full of games! (Not to mention, they have great beer and food.)

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Day 5 

  • National Ballpark Museum
  • Rockies Baseball Game
  • Eat Dinner Downtown by Union Station Splash Fountain! The kids get to play and get wet while you enjoy happy hour and appetizers/dinner.

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Day 6 

  • Switch Hotels and head downtown! (Hyatt Place Denver Downtown!)
  • Children’s museum and explore downtown – The museum is fun, but it was so packed that my anxiety was on high. The ropes course was a blast, but again, they need to cap the amount of people allowed in each day.
  • Walk the outdoor mall and pick up some Denver shirts!
  • We were exhausted and the rain chased us all the way back to the hotel, so we opted to order dinner in and go to bed early. (We had planned to eat by Union Station at another restaurant, though.)

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Day 7 

  • Walk around downtown
  • Enjoy chocolate and cupcakes (of course)
  • Pack up the car and jump back on the road for the drive home

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I could have filled several weeks worth of Denver-Fun for our family, and I cannot wait to head back sometime to continue exploring!

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Packing Tips for a Family Road Trip

We have seven humans in a car that has seven seats. 

Our road trips can be a long weekend, an 8 hour drive and a week long stay, or a two month adventure with multiple hotels, cities, and states. Packing can present a few challenges, depending on the purpose of each trip, and we have tried -and changed- many packing methods. We have a hitch that can hold a luggage trailer and a rack on top of the van. However, I’m not a fan of using these if John is not with us on a road trip. I need to get over it and put on my big girl panties her here, but until then, I’m bound and determined to get everything inside the van.

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A few things I have learned over the years traveling the highways with the kids:

Consider utilizing storage bins instead of luggage. They are easy to stack inside the car or on a trailer, and can be consolidated into categories: everyones’ hotel items, the clothing for a specific city/stop, things to bring to an area with water, etc. 

When changing hotels or packing to return home, consolidate luggage and turn one bag into the family laundry bag. It stays in the car and you will bring less into your next hotel – and when you get home, the clean vs dirty items are already separated. 

Snacks are key, but portioning them before hand is even better. Use ziplock baggies (forgive me, I’m a total natural minded mom, but sometimes, you have to do what’s easy) to portion healthy(ier) snacks like fresh popcorn, trail mix, nuts, energy bites, dried fruits, organic jerky, and anything else your kids will eat. You can toss a bag back and pray it doesn’t end up all over the floor.

Hang trash bags. I hang them from every arm rest in the van. It helps to make pit stops faster – I just dump them and scoop up anything big enough from the floor while kids are stretching their legs.

Kids have to pee – a lot. You can train your boys to pee in a bottle if you are brave, or you can just invest in a travel potty and pull over the nearest exit and let everyone pee into the wind (or squat on the potty). 

When packing clothes, sort them into matching outfits and roll them together. Everyone gets their own duffle bag or ziplock baggies inside of the containers. You want the ease of grabbing and being done without a second thought.

Pack minimal shoes for everyone. A pair of flip flops, sneakers, and possible a sandal/boot/dressier shoe should be enough for even the longest of trips. You can find a Target if a shoe emergency arises.

Don’t use the seats for storage. It’s tempting to use every free space inside the car, but the more you put near the kids, the crazier the car situation will get. Dvd’s, pads, pillows, blankets, snacks, and books are enough – don’t force the kids into any uncomfortable positions with 5 coolers, backpacks, and luggage under their feet. 

Invest in books on CD, audiobooks, and podcasts – for the kids and yourself. You can mandate headphones for some of the drive, so don’t forget to find something you will want to listen to.

Always have baby wipes, burp cloths, napkins, and plastic bags on hand. These things have nothing to do with babies – and everything to do with humans in a car.

Car Sickness Help. We give our sick-prone kids Dramamine before jumping in the car, but sometimes a drop of peppermint oil is enough to keep their stomachs calm.